Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you. – Exodus 25:8-9
If you are up-to-date on the Bible Reading Challenge, you have just finished up a rather large section in Exodus. Starting in chapter twenty-five God speaks His instructions for the place of worship for the Israelites, the tabernacle. He describes the Ark, table, lamp stand, the outer curtains, the altar, the courtyard, the basin, inner curtain, the holy of holies, and much more. It can seem very tedious as you read through it all, but I encourage you to take note of all that God is describing to the people.
The Nation of Israel will now have a place to worship and make their sacrifices to the Lord. This is also the place where God will dwell with His people. God would show Himself as a cloud over the tabernacle. This was a sign to the people that God was with them. They could look toward the tabernacle and find strength in the Lord. The tabernacle was built to move from place to place as Israel wandered through the wilderness. It wouldn’t be until the time of Solomon that God would have the people build a permanent building for worship. In Jerusalem they would build the temple, which would become God’s dwelling place among the people again.
Within the tabernacle, and the eventual temple as well, there was the holy of holies, or the most holy place. This place was where God dwelled. Only once a year a priest would enter the holy of holies and offer a sacrifice for the sins of the people. This place was separated by a great curtain. If you remember, during the death of Jesus on the cross, Scripture mentions that this curtain was torn in two. God wouldn’t be kept just inside the holy of holies; His Spirit was now going to be inside His people. That is why Paul tells the Corinthians, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” The barrier (curtain) that was between God and man has been removed; we have His Spirit inside us and we can boldly approach Him. We don’t need a priest to go before God for us. We have His Spirit and we can bring our requests and cares before our loving God who dwells among us and in us. As the Israelites found strength in seeing the cloud above the tabernacle, we find strength and encouragement in knowing that we have God’s Spirit living within us.